A spiritual getaway to Jageshwar Dham in Uttarakhand is one of the best experiences far from the hustle of a busy metropolitan lifestyle. It is one of the Kumaon region’s hidden and most underrated nature paradises.
Location of Jageshwar
Let me begin with the geographic introduction of the Jageshwar Dham. It is located at an altitude of 1870 meters. The village is part of the Almora District in Uttarakhand, placed amid the dense deodar and pine trees forest.
The distance between the town of Almora and the Jageshwar is approximately 35 km and around 101 km from the lake city of Nainital. The drive to the temple town is a blissful experience. Each frame is a treat for a nature lover.
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam or Haldwani, and the nearest domestic airport is Bareilly airport. There are direct buses from Delhi to Almora or from Dehradun to Almora.
The temple town of Jageshwar comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples dating 9th to the 13th century AD, with many preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Apart from the temples, the place has a small number of houses, shops, hotels, guest houses, a few eateries, and a lush green deodar forest.
I was introduced to this place at the age of 15. Since then, yearly family visits to the temple instilled an unusual fondness for the place. My quiet persona always strikes a chord of harmony with the peaceful surroundings of the town.
Something transcendent in the town takes you far away from the mundane despairs.
History Of Jageshwar Dham
The history of Jageshwar is full of intriguing facts.
Jageshwar is one of the oldest shiva temples in India. No definite records are available leading to the accurate construction period of the Jageshwar temple. But according to the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India), they belong to the post-Gupta and pre-medieval eras. And estimated to be about 2500 years old.
These temples range from the 8th century, early Katyuri Dynasty, to the 18th century Chand Dynasty. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar Dham and re-established many temples before leaving for his journey to Kedarnath. During the early days, pilgrims would pass through Jageshwar en route to Kailash and Mansarovar.
The main temple is surrounded by tall, aged deodar trees and a calm river.
Tarun Jageshwar is one of the principal temples situated on the main premises. The temple has two door guardians: the armed Nandi and Skandi. Here, Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nagesh/Jageshwar.
The Mahamrityunjay temple is the largest and oldest temple in the Jageshwar temple complex. This temple of Shiva is eastern facing, and the Linga is worshipped as the saviour from death – Mahamrityunjay.
Various inscriptions from varied periods are inscribed on the walls and pillars of the Jageshwar temples. The dialect of inscriptions is mainly Sanskrit and Brahmi.
What To Do in Jageshwar
It seems the time stands still in this Instagram-worthy town. But it would be best if you were outdoor-loving to enjoy every bit of your time in this town.
You can choose to explore the beautiful forests, like we do, at your own pace, maybe carry a picnic hamper and make the most of the natural beauty around you. During our recent trips, I took a morning walk to the nearby village, admiring the traditional Kumaoni old houses.
Jageshwar is a great place for hiking and doing small jungle trail walks.
Bird watching is another outdoor activity that can keep you engaged for hours.
You can spend time meditating or doing yoga. There are a few yoga and spiritual retreats in the area.
Visit temple premises at the time of dawn and dusk. It is an enchanting experience, the sacred bells of aarti echoing in the mountains and touching one’s soul, bringing you close to that one almighty divine power. It is surely a relieving experience.
Explore different shrines and the museum.
Touring around Jageshwar village is a photography retreat. And you never know you might end up listening to an interesting mystifying folklore about the temple.
What do we prefer doing during our visits? Cut our ties with the outside world for a few days, praise the natural beauty, go on leisure walks, write a journal, meditate, follow a clean diet regime and get filled with tons and tons of positivity. What else does one desire from a spiritual getaway?
Where To Stay
There are many hotels, budget-friendly lodges, resorts, and guest houses in Jageshwar Dham. We picked Van Serai during one of our trips and, since then, have been loyal guests of the resort. It is located a kilometre ahead of the main temple premises.
Van Serai is perfect for a peaceful holiday. It is ideally located for those wanting to introspect, meditate or take a break from their stressful lives.
The food served at Van Serai is wholesome, delicious, strictly vegetarian, and mainly sattvic style without onion and garlic.
The kitchen team serves you the best local produce, cooked most simply and served with warmth.
Van Serai‘s in-house birding expert will be happy to initiate you into bird-watching, hiking, and jungle walking trails.
My Pro Travel Tips
How To Reach Jageshwar: The nearest railway station is Kathgodam (Haldwani), 125 km, with direct trains arriving from Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow and other leading cities of India. Jageshwar has direct road links with Almora (35 km), Delhi (400 km) and Kathgodam. Buses and private taxis ply from these places for Jageshwar regularly.
Best Time to Visit Jageshwar is anytime before the winter. The winters are harsh, and the place is quite deserted. It might snow as well. The ‘Jageshwar Monsoon Festival ‘, held between 15 July to 15 August, takes place during the Hindu calendar month of Shravan, and the annual ‘Maha Shivratri Mela’ (Shivratri festival), which takes place during spring, has an important place in the calendar of the entire Kumaon region.
Around Jageshwar, one can explore Abbott Mount, Jhaltola, Binsar, Vridh Jageshwar, Pangot, Sat Tal, Nainital, Ranikhet, Chakori, Munsyari, and Mukteshwar.
Book your stay in advance. Being a secluded town, the hotel staff requires time to prepare the room and menu for the guests’ arrival.
Jageshwar is located in the middle of a dense forest. Nights are cold. Wearing layers is the smart way to cope with fluctuating day/night temperatures. It would be best if you packed a pair of sweatshirts or jackets to keep you warm.
You get to do a lot of walking in the wild surroundings. So pack your most comfortable and covered footwear for the trip.
I know you will not miss any mobile/laptop/iPod/kindle chargers. There is rarely any mobile network in Jageshwar, so don’t worry much about the mobile charger.
Do not forget to put in your prescription medicines. You will not get them anywhere around the area.
The food served in the Jageshwar, and the surrounding areas is strictly vegetarian (no eggs). If you have certain food allergies, it is better to tell the hotel kitchen team well in advance, so they have enough time to procure the desired ingredients from the nearby town.
It isn’t easy to source gourmet or various ingredients in the middle of the jungle. Enjoy the local cuisine served at most of the eateries around the temple.
Due to network issues and low connectivity, the digital mode of payment, including cards, doesn’t work well in Jageshwar. Hence, it is best to carry enough cash as there are no ATMs in the town.